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Full text of "Alaskan glacier studies of the National Geographic Society in the Yakutat Bay, Prince William Sound and lower Copper River regions"

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MAIASPINA GLACIER                                         47
which no longer exists. The shore-line eastward to Yakutat Bay is also very different from the present coast.
Russell explained the absence of Icy Bay by supposing that it had been filled by the glacial streams and that its site is the present delta of the Yahtse River.1 That this interpretation is erroneous, and that Icy Bay was destroyed by glacial advance is indicated by the testimony of Yakutat natives. H. W. Topham was told in 1888 by George, second chief of the Yakutats, of this advance. He says:3 "There is a tradition amongst his people, that formerly there was a large bay running up from the sea to the very foot of St. Elias; that there was a village at the head of that bay; that all around the village was swampy or muddy (Yahtse1) ground; that the mountain was, therefore, called Yahts6-tah-shah, tah meaning harbor, and shah meaning peak; that a river flowed into the bay from the northwest, where were large glaciers; that the east of the bay was all ice, but the west, sand and trees; that at the mouth of the bay dwelt some Indians, and that one day an Indian came rushing home crying 'Quick, quick, the ice is coming,' pointing to the river down which the ice was seen to be rapidly advancing. The Indians escaped along the shore. The ice came on right across the bay, till it struck the opposite shore, when it turned and continued down the bay to the sea, swallowing the village in its course."
The description of the bay at the very foot of Mt. St. Elias, with the river coming in on the northwest, agrees with the Tebenkof map, except that the west side had the glacier and the east side sand, swamp, and trees according to the map, but Mr. Topham may very well have misunderstood the natives about this, or the native story may have been in error. Native testimony and native legends are not very trustworthy bases for scientific conclusions; but in this case there is some reason for believing in the general accuracy of the story, for it is in harmony with the map which we have reproduced. While, therefore, we cannot consider it demonstrated, we believe it possible and even probable that early in the nineteenth century the front of Malaspina Glacier has been very decidedly modified by pronounced advance. There is nothing in the present condition of vegetation in the region that disproves such an advance within the period between 1887 when Bel-cher"reached into Icy Bay "and" tacked in ten fathoms, mud,"8 and 1886 when Schwatka, Libbey, and Seton Karr found no Icy Bay, but a Malaspina Glacier 25 mileswidebetween the south end of Chaix Hills and the ocean.4 Indeed, Seward lobe may have possibly felt the impulse of advance before the Agassiz and Guyot lobes and have advanced before Belcher's visit, for he mentions that the small islet under Pt. Riou shown by Vancouver was no longer there.5 The diameter of the trees on the ice near Pt. Manby, as described by Russell, suggest that the advance on this side was perhaps before 1887. The advance was pretty surely before 1874, when Dall made his first visit to Malaspina Glacier alluded to below, but as he did not visit the part of the ice front near Icy Bay this cannot be settled positively.
The establishment of a modern advance of such magnitude just west of Yakutat Bay
113th Annual Report, U. S. Geol. Survey, 1894. p. 13.
 Topham, H. W., A Visit to the Glaciers of Alaska and Mt. St. Elias, Proc. Hoy. Geog. Soc., Vol. XI, 1889, pp. 432-433.
 Op. cit., Vol. I, 1848, p. 79.
' Seton Kara, H. W., Shores and Alps of Alaska, London, 1887, map on p. 87.
 Op. cit., Vol. I, 1843, p. 79.